Selected works of Indian literature to be translated into world languages

New Delhi, January 23, 2012

Union Culture Minister Kumari Selja today said her Ministry had launched a project to translate classical and contemporary Indian literary works into world languages as part of a project to take the country's literature abroad.
Speaking at the inaugural session of the 86th General Assembly of Union Academique Internationale (UAI) here today she said the Ministry was working on the six UN languages plus Japanese and Italian to begin with. 
She said it intended to expand the reach to as many languages as it could and declared that the Ministry fully endorsed and supported every endeavour in this direction.
Selja said that, in India, it was common to find persons very fluent in more than one language. Most educated persons read literature in more than one language. Simultaneously, there is a vast pool of writers who are extremely proficient writing in more than one language. 
She said the Sahitya Akademi will initiate constructive measures to tap this resource pool, and to ensure widespread cross translation of good literary works into multiple Indian languages. 
The Minister said the outreach of Sahitya Akademi must be enlarged manifold so that a greater cross section of book lovers within the country could read and appreciate good literary works. 
Selja said that from the Vedic literature through epic literature to Prakrit and Pali writings and the more recent multilingual modern literature, Indian literature had come a long-long way. 
"It spans all genres in the broadest sense of the word. The works include religious and mundane, epic and lyric, dramatic and didactic poetry, narrative and scientific prose, as well as oral poetry and song. Literature defined the ways of life whether ancient religious practice or the more recent nationalism and reformism. Letters have the power to influence one’s mind and stir the soul like none else," she said.
The Minister contemporary writings had been profuse and prolific. But she said that, while the Government was enabling and recognising good literature, it was sad that cross translation of master works into different languages was still an area where there was much left to be desired. 
She said cross translation of works serves a greater purpose - that of unifying the peoples of the world.
"It takes the rich cultural experience of one region to the other through artistic expression which encompasses the regional cultural context, ecology environment and intangible mores and practices as part of literary work. The reader in any distant part of world will live through the same experience the author is living in his narration," she pointed out.
Selja said digital experience had, undoubtedly, overtaken all other forms of outreach but it was limited to mere visual appeal. 
"On the contrary, a literary experience makes you walk alive through the thick green forests, it makes you feel your feet sinking on silver beaches, and brings alive the experience of fragrance and the colours of blossoming flowers and so on. Not just the soft power, literature has stirred many a soul into paths of self discovery and aggressive national fervour. Letters give life to the myriad feelings and emotions. The bond that books weave among peoples of the world of different nationalities, economies, cultures, races and ethnic backgrounds is the greatest unifying act. And the members of the Union Academique Internationale must act on it. They owe it to this world and to their future generations," she said.
Selja hoped that the Sahitya Akademi would broaden its outreach and area of influence and represent the literature of the country in a much more comprehensive ad forceful way and promised all help to it from the Ministry to help broade its infrastructural base.
Representatives from 60 countries, including Janusz Koslowski, President, UAI, Francois de Callatay, Rep. Secretary General, UAI and Sunil Gangopadhyay, President, Sahitya Akademi are taking part in the General Assembly. 

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